Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas greetings!

Dear friends and family,

We hope you’ll take a few minutes to glance through our blog. The photos should capture the highlights of our year. About half our entries are about our adventure to the Yukon last summer: five weeks, 5000 miles, and two weeks in our canoe on the Yukon River. An awesome experience.

We have big changes in store for us in 2010... Dan is retiring as of January 1st. Actually, he is taking vacation next week, so he had his last day of work on Friday and came home with a big box of stuff from cleaning out his cubicle. He has many ideas, but no definite plans at this point. Among other things, he wants to build a guitar, remodel the Crystal condominium, and take voice lessons. Speaking of singing, Dan was able to sing a sizable solo with Opus 7 at our October concert – and it was in Czech!

I have a new “volunteer vocation” which I love. Last January we began an after school tutoring program at our church. Once a week twelve elementary children from two schools come to the church for two hours of one on one tutoring and some recreation. My part in this program is to recruit, train and support the tutors. There’s actually a lot more to it than that, but that is the part I like best. This work is such a good fit for me, and I’m excited about the progress the students are making. So many of the kids have said, “I wish I could come here every day” and parents report that they really enjoy coming.

Celia and Keith graduated from Regent College and now are serving as short term missionaries in Japan. I have a link to their blog, which is full of interesting stories about their life in Sapporo. Celia and Keith started posting photos and updates on Facebook, so the rest of the family is now making facebook “friends” as we follow Celia and Keith’s adventures. You can be our friends, too!

Colin has been a hiking machine this year, with his biggest accomplishment climbing Mt. Stuart. He co-leads a couple of informal hiking groups and has had the opportunity to introduce a number of international students to the beauty of our mountains. He is working on the 747-800, and has indicated his desire to work overseas for Boeing, especially in Asia. He enjoyed watching the 787 take off on its first flight last week. Dan and I watched it on TV.

As Christmas approaches, we are having a very different kind of experience than usual. Since the fall, Dan’s mom, Grace, has been very ill. She is not expected to live much longer. We have spent many hours sitting with her along with other family members. We don’t really feel like celebrating Christmas, at least not in the traditional “ho-ho-ho Merry Christmas” fashion. But the hope and peace of Christmas are exactly what we need now. Even in the face of death, Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Peace comes because the Son of God came into the world to be our Emmanuel, “God with us”.

May you experience this hope and peace at Christmas and all year long.

Dan and Joann

Monday, December 14, 2009

Reflections from Grace's bedside

What an immense privilege it is to sit at the side of a person who is soon to die. When time is short, every moment matters: for expressing appreciation, for sharing memories, for saying “I love you”, for forgiving past wrongs. Regrets are dealt with and laid aside so that one can fully appreciate the sacred moments left together. Sadness is present, but also laughter. Prayer is freely offered and accepted. In the presence of a dying person, it becomes clear what is important, how little is truly essential. With all the trivial swept away, we are open to receive blessings at the most difficult time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Early skiing

Skiing on November 14th??? We haven't seen that for a while. Yeah, there were some rocks, but the snow conditions were excellent.